back to article Ohio bloke accused of torching own home after his pacemaker rats him out to cops

A man has been indicted on arson and insurance fraud charges after police got hold of readings from his pacemaker that called his alibi into question. Last September, firefighters in Middletown, Ohio, were called to a blaze gutting Ross Compton's house. The 59-year-old chap told police the fire broke out indoors, and that he …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If his brains were dynamite...

    ... he wouldn't have enough to blow his hat off.

  2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    "pacemaker that called his alibi into question"

    Any device that has some form of geolocation can be used to track one's location. A pacemaker is better than a phone since it is surgically implanted.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: "pacemaker that called his alibi into question"

      In this case, it was used to map his heart condition, not geolocation, and the results said he was in no condition to perform the activities he said he did.

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: "pacemaker that called his alibi into question"

        "the results said he was in no condition to perform the activities he said he did"

        I'm suspicious of that. How many examples of pacemaker wearing arson victims did they have in the control group? People can do all sorts of unbelievable things when their lives are in danger.

        Don't get me wrong, the rest of the evidence sounds convincing, but I can't think of a way to prove what the doctor claims. Not that dodgy statistics have ever stopped doctors claiming their expert witness fee (cough, Roy Meadow).

        [By way of some form of disclosure I've got a dodgy heart too]

        1. lglethal Silver badge
          Go

          Re: "pacemaker that called his alibi into question"

          @ A Yank Lurker - I dont think the Police Need a cardiologist to read geolocation data if thats what they had collected. You would probably consult a cardiologist if you wanted to look at heart rhythyms and such. Like it says in the article...

          @ Adam52 - my guess is it's more along the lines of, for the supposed amount of time that he was "hastily packing his things and legging it out of the house", the data showed he was incredibly calm and in no way panicked, running or rushing about, or probably Lifting anything heavy or strenuously. Faced with a fire thats about to destroy your house, your heart should be going pretty crazy. If your merely chucking about a bit of Petrol for personal Profit, it's probably pretty calm...

          1. Cuddles Silver badge

            Re: "pacemaker that called his alibi into question"

            "my guess is it's more along the lines of, for the supposed amount of time that he was "hastily packing his things and legging it out of the house", the data showed he was incredibly calm and in no way panicked, running or rushing about, or probably Lifting anything heavy or strenuously."

            Yes, the Reg article seems a bit misleading, since it says that the cardiologist simply said he wasn't fit enough to have done it, which could just mean they did a general assessment of his health that happened to include pacemaker data. However, the linked article this comes from originally is rather more specific:

            "They wanted to know Compton's heart rate, pacer demand and cardiac rhythms before, during and after the fire.

            Police told WLWT on Friday that it was an excellent investigative tool, and the information that was retrieved didn't match Compton's story."

            Fitness isn't mentioned at all, it explicitly says that it was the data on his heart during the event that was important.

            1. jcitron

              Re: "pacemaker that called his alibi into question"

              It could be too that the police looked at the trending data over time which would show his level of fitness as well his "strenuous escape".

              My mum has something like this which phones home hourly now, literally. We try to make a phone call and there's that familiar modem sound as the transmitter is sending the data back to doc's office.

              One day we did get a call from the doc's office, which we thought was odd. The attendant said there were signs she was under some stress, which she was.

        2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

          Re: "pacemaker that called his alibi into question"

          People can do all sorts of unbelievable things when their lives are in danger.

          And is probably accompanied by an increased heart rate - which I think is what this all boils down to; the biological recordings not reflecting the narrative he wants to have believed and the exertion which that would have involved.

          Moral of the story for the rest of us; don't publicly log your FitBit* data if you want to claim you ran all the way when arriving somewhere late unless you actually did.

          * Other lie revealing devices are available.

          1. Ledswinger Silver badge

            Re: "pacemaker that called his alibi into question"

            * Other lie revealing devices are available.

            The future looks bleak (although for Americans, the future is indeed orange).

            If my various white lies about why I was late, how much I enjoyed my wife's cooking, how I was or wasn't doing some specific thing, how I forgot event "X" are all to be revealed, then its time for me to become a cave dwelling hermit in Nepal.

    2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: device has geolocation used to track location pacemaker surgically implanted.

      Uh oh... time to block the White House from having access to The Register...

  3. Lost In Clouds of Data
    Flame

    No surprise here

    Having had the utter misfortune to have driven through Middletown I can attest that none if this surprises me one iota. His motive, apart from the $400K, was probably to get the heck out that dying shithole.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: No surprise here

      Dying. Yup. Steel plant is all but shut down. Not a shithole, though. I've seen much worse.

      (My daughter lives in Cincinnati, we drove thru' to pick up a friend of hers on the way to Dayton.)

  4. perfgeek
    Coat

    The Telltale Heart

    Clearly. I'll get my coat...

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: The Telltale Heart

      Now, shouldn't that be the Tattle Tale Heart?

      Just behind you...

    2. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: The Telltale Heart

      If anyone doesn't realise that's a joke, would it be an example of Poe's law?

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: The Telltale Heart

      Clearly. I'll get my coat...

      Don't go - I have this nice cask of Amontillado in the cellar..

      1. Steve Aubrey
        Joke

        Re: The Telltale Heart

        "I have this nice cask of Amontillado in the cellar.."

        @Crazy - I'll see you on the other side.

  5. Winkypop Silver badge
    Trollface

    Accommodation problem solved

    At least he'll have some alternate lodgings, should he be found guilty.

    1. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: Accommodation problem solved

      And better medical care too!

  6. Your alien overlord - fear me
    Flame

    If he was doing an insurance job, why bother collecting stuff to save from the fire?

    1. Lyle Dietz

      Could be stuff that is hard/impossible to replace and/or has sentimental value. Probably some clothes as well.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      You'll need some comfortable time while waiting for $400k, won't you?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Can't be sentimental and a Crook too!

      I know someone who knows someone that ended up with 10 years in the slammer because he couldn't burn his super high end HiFi equipment. The clown stored it with his mistress, who happened to be a friend of wife. Wife spots precious HiFi at mistress place, got really pissed off and grassed him up about his many other business interests apart from the arson and insurance fraud. He is probably out now.

  7. David O'Rourke

    Pleading the Fifth

    Presumably a pacemaker inside you doesn't count as part of you. Otherwise he would have had the right not to incriminate himself

    1. druck

      Re: Pleading the Fifth

      Good point!

  8. Aaiieeee
    Angel

    Note to self

    1. Determine a coherent story and stick to it

    2. Don't underestimate forensics and other investigative disciplines

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Note to self

      3. Read up on statistics on how accidental house fires normally start.

      4. Do this work from a VM, delete the VM. Properly.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

        Re: Note to self

        5. Make sure that all the IoT-devices that potentially can rat you out are utterly destroyed beyond the possibility of any data salvage.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: Note to self

          In this case, the IoT device happened to be his Internal Old Ticker, not the current crop of "put the kettle on while you're half a continent away, and dump your wife's shower pics in some random, popular, Instagram account in one go" stuff that seems to be all the rage nowadays.

          And yes, my first association on reading the headline was some IoT data spillage.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Note to self

          "5. Make sure that all the IoT-devices that potentially can rat you out are utterly destroyed beyond the possibility of any data salvage."

          6. Locate and destroy the data centres where the IoT data was sent.

          7 Locate and destroy any and all backups of said bit barn data.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Note to self

            Goddamn! I just wanted to burn my damn house and now I have to pay someone like Putin for an EMP-weapon to take out all the electronics in the whole of the northern hemisphere first !? ....

    2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: @Aaiieeee Note to self

      3. Don't even think about it

      4. It's not worth it

      5. Seriously

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So the doctor just says he is guilty, so he must be?

    Yet another victim of paid expert witnesses.

    The pacemaker clearly didnt provide a log of heart rate during the period in question, which would have actually been indicative. Instead we have a doctor's opinion that the accused was too unfit to have survived based upon what exactly? either accused was bedbound or the doctor is providing evidence to meet the need of his employer.

    Just because he got to be a doctor does not mean his isn't a shill, remember the UK doctor who said "beef is safe". Nothing is inherantly safe and no ethical scientist would ever say it was without qualification.

    No matter the group of humans it will always contain a percentage of corruption and a title assocated with saving lives does nothing to change that.

    1. Santa from Exeter
      FAIL

      Re: So the doctor just says he is guilty, so he must be?

      If you bothered to read the linked article -

      "According to court documents obtained by WLWT, a cardiologist told police that those actions were "highly improbable" because of Compton's medical condition.

      Police sought to prove that by collecting electronic data stored in Compton's electronic heart device. They wanted to know Compton's heart rate, pacer demand and cardiac rhythms before, during and after the fire."

      So, no, the doctor didn't say 'he was too unfit to survive' just his story was improbable given his existing condition. The log from his implant proved it.

      TL/DR RTFA

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: So the doctor just says he is guilty, so he must be?

      Don't forget the other evidence like gasoline traces on his clothing, forensics indicating the fire started in multiple locations and different stories given to the police and 911 dispatch. Pretty sure the doctor's statement didn't make any difference in his conviction, the police/prosecutor probably only subpoenaed the pacemaker data because they wanted precedent so they could do it in future cases where it might matter more.

      Juries in the US tend to assume that cops and expert witnesses such as doctors are telling the truth, which is why prosecutors like to put them on the stand. Not sure how this jibes with so many people claiming global warming is simply a lie (rather than saying they are skeptical because too much credence is given to unproven climate models) and believing there's a vast medical conspiracy about vaccines. I guess it shows that some people give even more credence to politicians and celebrities, who of course are well known for their vast knowledge of science and medicine...

  10. Velv Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Metadata captures the criminal

    I'm just waiting for the next logical use of the data off our devices and records.

    Police find body buried in the woods, pathologist sets a time of death and potential time of burial.

    Police approach mobile phone networks for details of all devices in the area in said timeframe.

    Knock, knock!!!

    1. Andy the ex-Brit

      Re: Metadata captures the criminal

      This already happens. One example:

      http://io9.gizmodo.com/how-police-caught-two-bank-robbers-using-verizon-cell-p-1232742089

  11. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    I don't get it

    "He also has an artificial heart with a pump attached."

    First, what would make up the rest of an artificial heart, beside the pump component? Second, pacemakers are there to drive the plain old natural heart that one (or one's donor) was born with.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: I don't get it

      I suspect it may have been a ventricular assist device rather than a complete heart replacement.

  12. Tikimon Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Utterly irrelevant heart monitor story

    You did notice the warning about utterly irrelevant? Still here? OK, on your own head be it.

    My doc wanted to check my heart rhythm years ago, so they stuck a monitor on me to wear for 24 hours. I figured it should be a REAL test, so went for a night mountain bike ride with some mates. Turned in Cthulhu (it had lots of tentacles) the next day. Later that day the cardiologist office called in a near-panic because from midnight to 3:00am my heart rate was rocketing along at up to 180. Not sure they believed the answer, but it calmed them down some.

  13. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Time Stamps, cliock drift, connectivity and NTP

    I wonder if the design includes trustworthy time and date stamping.

    Probably close enough in this case.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019